Date of Award

8-2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

David Washburn

Second Advisor

Michael Beran

Third Advisor

Erin Tone

Abstract

The possibility that writing can provide relief from endogenous sources of distraction and

improve attention performance was examined. Participants completed attention scope and control tasks prior to and after completing a five-minute writing exercise. The writing exercise instructed participants to either copy text or write down tasks they intended to complete in the near future. Writing did not elicit effects in attention performance, but methodological limitations make it difficult to interpret this outcome. Individual differences in stress, cognitive control and flexibility under stress, and ruminative tendencies did not relate to attention performance. Stress was associated with poorer cognitive control and flexibility as well as a tendency to ruminate. Future research should verify writing-related performance improvements in other cognitive tasks before administering scope and control tasks to determine whether writing benefits attention and to disambiguate benefits related to liberated capacity from those related to renewed attention control.

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